Breaking the injury cycle

It is commonly accepted that runners get injured at some point, and most accept this as an inevitable outcome of running. For some this becomes a cycle of running, injury, recovery, and running again.

Some people think running is something we are not designed to do. Other say the high physical demands placed on our bodies are the cause and thus are running too much. However, we are designed to run. Humans are the most perfecting designed endurance running machine on the planet. Other animals can run, and run faster, but humans can run further and for longer than anything else.

Current research suggests that our ancient relatives didn’t just run to avoid being eaten. They ran to hunt, using their superior endurance, for persistence hunting. Chasing their prey, not giving them a chance to stop, until they dropped dead.

Therefore, if we are the most perfectly designed running machine, why do so many people end up on the injury bench? Surely, if you apply the survival of the fittest principle, all the genetically bad runners, who get injured all the time, would have been wiped out. Unable to run, and thus feed themselves.

Basically, some people have lost the ability to run as nature intended.  They, therefore, put stresses and strains on parts of their bodies that were not designed for running. Thus, they get injured.

They then assume that this is due to a factor other than their running style, after all running is simply putting one foot in from the other and there currently style does not feel unnatural.  Thus, they try and design their way out of the problem, with different shoes, orthotics, compression clothing, etc. rather than taking a back to basics approach.

If you brought a new car, and every time you went to drive of you did so in a cloud of tire smoke, wheels spinning away like crazy. Would you either, put up with it and accept that the car will break at some point, spend hundreds of pounds changing the wheels, tires, suspension, etc., or change the way you drive it?

Therefore, why not apply the same principle to yourself? Rather than putting up with it as inevitable or spending hundreds of pounds designing your way out of the problem, why not change the way you run?

Changing the way you run can be like giving up smoking. Initial you may feel worse, slow and sluggish.  Temptation is around every corner, and it is far too easy to drop back into the old habits.  However, if you persist the benefits can be great.

Like giving up smoking it is far easier to do with help and support. You need someone to look at the way you currently run or video you so you can look at yourself. You need advice on how to strength any areas of weakness and how to actual change the way you run.

Therefore, do some research on different running styles and techniques. This maybe barefoot, Chi, Pose, Evolution, Natural Running, etc. Find one you think will work for you, talk to people who use this method. Then find someone that can coach you in this method, rather than trying to learn it out of a book or watching YouTube. If it does not work for you, go back to the drawing board and start again, or adapt it so it does. Like giving up smoking you need to persist and a method that works for one person may not work for you.

Once you have gone through this process the rewards can be great. Fewer injuries mean more time training. More time training will result in better performance. It could also be your current running style is also inefficient. Therefore, you will save energy that is normally wasted allowing you to run further or faster than before.